(21 / P045) TRENTON – New Jersey people are urged to ring the bell in 2022 and start the New Year with a healthy hike in a state park or forest, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn announced today. Mr. LaTourette.
In total, the State Park Service offers 28 hikes and one lighthouse climb statewide.
“Spending time outdoors enjoying New Jersey’s beautiful state parks and forests while breathing in the fresh air is a great way to welcome the New Year.” said Commissioner LaTourette. “Day one hikes are the perfect opportunity to get close to nature, search for birds and other wildlife, and recognize the value of our open spaces.”
The State Park Service did not organize any official guided day one hikes on January 1, 2021 due to COVID-19 outdoor gathering restrictions, but still encouraged park users to hike with their immediate families.
“New Year’s Day is a great time to visit a new state park, forest, or historic site for the first time.” said John Cecil, director of the Parks and Forests Division. “We understand that some visitors may still be reluctant to gather as a group, and we are happy to offer a number of self-guided options.”
In 2020, more than 2,000 hikers completed 5,625 miles on Day 1 hikes through New Jersey’s extensive trail system.
There are a variety of hikes available at all levels of difficulty. Among them:
- Take a 1.5 mile walk through the New Jersey State Tree Farm and Trails in the Pine Barrens at the Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson Township, Ocean County, starting at 11 a.m. Hikers will see the sources of the Toms River and the Maple Sugar Shack Center and it is advisable to dress appropriately for the weather. Dogs on a leash are welcome. Call (732) 928-0987 to register.
- Climb the 64 steps of the North Tower of the Twin Lights State Historic Site in Highlands, County Monmouth, and enjoy breathtaking views. The North Tower will be open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Hikers are advised to dress warmly as the tower is not heated, and to bring binoculars. The museum and the site shop will be open. All ages are welcome. Registration is not required.
- Experienced hikers and their dogs on a leash can join Megan and her furry friends at 9 a.m. for an approximately 6 mile hike through the Belleplain State Forest, visiting different trail systems that showcase the Cape May County’s diverse forest landscape. After the hike, tea, hot chocolate and homemade treats for humans and their pets will be offered around a campfire at the forestry office. Children at least 10 years old and supervised by an adult are welcome. Call (609) 861-2404 or email [email protected] to sign up for one of the many hikes planned in the forest, or for more information. The hikes will be canceled in the event of very bad weather.
- Take a three-mile guided walk around Somerville in Somerset County to learn about the district’s 18th-century Tunison Tavern and General George Washington’s passage through the area 245 years ago following the battles from Trenton and Princeton. The walk meets at the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage car park, starts at 2 p.m. and is open to all ages. Registration is required and can be done by calling (908) 725-1015 or by emailing [email protected]
Spend the day trekking 16 rugged miles on the Warren Highlands Trail between Phillipsburg and Ragged Ridge in County Warren. The hike starts at 8:30 am. Children at least 10 years old who can travel 25 km in winter and who are accompanied by their parents or guardians are welcome, as are dogs on a leash. Hikers should bring water, snacks, and lunch. There are no restrooms or shops along the hiking route. Registration is required by calling Hike Leader Mike Helbing at (908) 343-8374 or emailing [email protected] The hike will only be canceled in the event of severe weather.
For a full list of hikes and related details visit www.njparksandforests.org/firstdayhikes/
All events are free and some require pre-registration. Some events also depend on the weather. For a detailed list of event start times, how to dress, difficulty ratings and duration of hikes, age requirements, accessibility issues, whether dogs are allowed and who to contact in inclement weather visit www.njparksandforests.org/firstdayhikes/
The State Park Service began participating in Day 1 hikes after the program became a national event in 2012. Day 1 hikes began over 20 years ago in the Blue Hills Preserve, a State Park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was started to promote healthy lifestyles and recreation all year round in state parks.
DEP’s Parks and Forestry Division manages nearly 450,000 acres of land, including 40 state parks and forests.
For a video of Day One Hikes in New Jersey, visit https://youtu.be/wEHL-uuVQM0.
To learn more about New Jersey’s parks, forests and historic sites, visit www.njparksandforests.org.
Like the New Jersey Parks and Forestry Division page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/newjerseystateparks.
Follow the New Jersey State Park Service on Instagram @newjerseystateparks
Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP.